I have been a home inspector for several years now and have recently noticed a rise in the number of homes that are being listed for sale that have been used for indoor Marijuana Growing Operations or “grow-ops”.  I believe the change in government policy relating to medical marijuana supply to be the primary factor for the influx. The government policy once allowed personal medical marijuana to be grown under license at registered homes but now requires government approved suppliers which grow in warehouses and other commercial buildings and removes the license from the home growers. The legal battle is continuing between the presently licensed home growers and the federal government but many of the home growers are shutting down their operations and selling the tainted homes.

Another factor which may be contributing to the influx of grow ops on the real estate market is the legalization of marijuana in the United States. The once lucrative B.C. Bud market has reportedly seen prices steadily falling to all-time lows, which has taken the promise of “easy money’ out of the business. Not to mention that the business was risky at the best of times with the constant threat of detection and prosecution by the authorities but also the well documented threat of “grow-rips” by competitors and other thugs.

If you are planning on investing in the real estate market whether it be in a rural or urban area it is wise to have the building inspected by a licensed home inspector. Not only can a licensed home inspector identify issues with a ‘normal’ house but they are also trained to identify signs of marijuana grow-ops, these include: hidden rooms, modified wiring, modified plumbing, modified heating, modified structure and other tell-tale signs. Common places for marijuana grow-ops are out buildings, such as this one discovered during a home inspection in Maple Ridge.

The garage had been converted into a “grow-op” complete with water and electricity. The neighbors were also put at risk due to the potential for a fire in the garage and also because their house was less than 25 feet away from the building! The owners had made little attempt to hide the fact that it was a “grow-op” and justified it by saying “it was a legal grow-op”. Legal or not the dangers are the same, modified wiring and electrical panels (in this case NMD cable run underground- NMD is not meant for underground installation and could have caused a fire. The extra 100 amp breaker in the 100 amp panel had signs of over-heating and the dead-ended aluminum cable left in the box), modified plumbing (in this case water lines were cut into and there were no backflow prevention devices which could allow chemicals and pesticides to flow back into the potable water supply), modified structure (in this case a bonus as the garage would likely have fallen down if they hadn’t beefed it up for the grow op by adding plywood to the walls and ceilings and adding vapour barriers and insulation). There is still a security risk associated with owning a former grow-op as not all people who are aware of the location may be aware that the grow op has been shut down and may come back for a “grow-rip” putting the new owners at risk.

If you are considering buying a former grow-op there are lenders that will provide funding but most will steer clear of them due to the investment risk they pose. Investors steer clear of them because of the stigmatism that is associated with a “grow-op” which may also limit your ability to sell for top dollar.

Stonegate Home Inspections has been performing home inspections in Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Port Moody and Maple Ridge since 2010 and offers competitive pricing and top quality service. Please feel free to contact us and request a free quote if you require any of our environmental services (mold sampling, asbestos testing, air quality testing) or require any of our inspection services (home inspection, commercial inspection, WETT inspection, maintenance inspection or fire and safety inspection).

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